Tamales at Guisados
If you're going to Guisados, the Boyle Heights eatery that, along with Mariscos Jalisco, just won L.A. Taco's epic Taco Madness 2012, you undoubtedly are going for one, or two, or three of its famed stewed and braised tacos. But tear your eyes away from the long list of available taco fillings chalked on the giant menu for just a second and shift your gaze to the right. There, you'll notice that Guisados also offers tamales, which you can ask about while you put in your taco order. The mole tamale seems to be there most days; other options sometimes include a sweet tamale with shredded coconut and pineapple. Either is an excellent complement to any of the tacos, whether it be the calabacitas or tinga de polla. And, at only $1.50 per tamale, you may as well order at least one.
T. Nguyen Coconut pineapple tamale and chicken mole taco at Guisados
The tamales come out in packets that probably aren't even as wide as the smartphone you're using to take their photo. But great things come in small packages: The mole, delicious as it is in the taco, might be even better matched in the density of the tamale. And the coconut and pineapple tamale has a gentle stickiness that's not unlike the sticky rice you might order for dessert at a Thai restaurant, if the mango was swapped out in favor of pineapple. In a way, that makes this particular tamale its own perfect dessert: Just light enough to fit in after all those tacos de guisados, yet big enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The tamales are prepared fresh in certain quantities every day, so sometimes they're all out by the late afternoon. If you have your lucky penny in your pocket, though, someone there might be kind enough to scrounge up the ingredients to make you one or two right there on the spot. And if not -- well, you can save that buck fifty for your next trip on the Metro. Or, better yet, another taco.